Magufuli commissions new aircraft for tourist routes

Saturday October 1 2016

Air Tanzania, which will be facing competition from PrecisionAir and FastJet, is targeting Dodoma, Pemba Island and Mpanda in western Tanzania.  PHOTO | FILE

Air Tanzania, which will be facing competition from PrecisionAir and FastJet, is targeting Dodoma, Pemba Island and Mpanda in western Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE 

By APOLINARI TAIRO

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli on Wednesday commissioned two Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft for the country’s ailing national carrier, Air Tanzania. The president said his government plans to buy two wide-bodied planes for flying international routes that connect Tanzania with other destinations.

The president said he will authorise the purchase of the two aircraft next year, the first one with a capacity of 160 and the second with 240 seats. They will both fly international routes in America, Europe, Russia and China.

“We are confident that these two, big planes will boost tourism through direct flights from key tourist markets. They can make non-stop flights between Tanzania, US and China to eliminate unnecessary connections in other countries,” said President Magufuli.

Flagging off

He flagged off the two new commercial aircrafts, which were bought from Canada. They will fly within the region under the control of the government aviation agency, but leased to the ailing Air Tanzania.

“Mismanagement, corruption and indiscipline in Air Tanzania were just a few of the problems that contributed to the downfall of our national carrier,” said President Magufuli.

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Air Tanzania’s chief executive Patrick Itule said the two aircraft will be flying key domestic routes to compete with private airlines.

“We expect to make air transport in Tanzania more competitive with those two brand new aircraft,” said Mr Itule.

Air Tanzania will have to compete with Precision Air, which operates a fleet of ATR 42 and ATR 72 turboprops and has enjoyed a near monopoly on the profitable domestic routes of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Mwanza and Mtwara.

Fastjet, the low-cost airline that is currently undergoing a restructuring and is awaiting a major fleet change, will also compete with Air Tanzania on domestic routes.

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